The government’s employment law reform will allow parents to share up to 50 weeks’ leave when having a child. The regulations are expected to come into force in October. Although they won’t take effect until 5 April 2015, employees falling pregnant from early July will come under the new regime. Employers therefore need to be prepared for requests and questions.
Kate Hodgkiss, employment partner at DLA Piper, said the new parental leave regime will have a significant impact on both employers and employees. “It completely overhauls the existing system of maternity and paternity leave for those parents who wish to share leave with their partners. Most employers are already broadly aware that family-friendly rights are facing the biggest changes ever seen. However, many have yet to realise how quickly the changes are coming in.
“There is therefore only a matter of weeks left to get systems in place. Employers should be taking steps to put in place appropriate policies and procedures so that they are able to inform employees about their rights and obligations,” she added.
Staff and managers will need to be trained on the new regime. Hodgkiss said the legislation is extremely complex and places onerous burdens on both employers and employees so implementation will not be straightforward.
Employers also need to consider how to deal with pay during shared parental leave, particularly where they offer a scheme of enhanced pay during maternity leave. “The legal issues in this area are not straightforward and employers should therefore tread carefully in making any decisions,” she added.
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